Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2019

On Nov 8, 2019, the first cohort of Pathways Program students at Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College applied for dual admission to VCU. This was the culmination of the first semester of the program, in which students participated in events, activities, and advising that familiarized them with VCU, explored their fields of interest, and began preparing them for transfer.

The first cohort of Mellon Pathways Program participants at Reynolds Community College, celebrate their completion of the dual admissions application with Transfer Coach Paul Williams, Transfer Coordinator Ian Coyle, and Program Director Micol Hutchison.

The Pathways Program, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is open to all students at the beginning of their studies at Reynolds and JTCC who are considering transferring to VCU and majoring in a discipline in the humanities or arts. It offers seamless curricular pathways to VCU and ensures that, after completion of the associate degree and Pathways Program, students can complete their bachelor’s degree at VCU in two years.

“As someone who has done the majority of my courses online, it’s been fantastic to have the opportunity to connect with other students,” said Jennifer Dennis, a JTCC Pathways Program participant who plans to transfer to VCU in 2021. “The guidance from my Transfer Coach in making sure that I’m on the right path to facilitate my path at VCU has really been phenomenal.”

In addition to helping students make better decisions and save time and money, Pathways program director Micol Hutchison says additional programmatic elements are also critical to student success.

“No matter how academically prepared and motivated they might be, students can struggle when they first transfer to university, because it can be hard to find your place, academically and socially,” said Hutchison. “One of the big goals of this program is to help students establish a sense of belonging at VCU before they transfer there.”

Beyond the students’ majors, the program helps students identify interesting and relevant programs, such as interdisciplinary certificates and minors that they can pursue at VCU.

Pathways Program participants also can get involved at the university through organizations and events, so that when they transfer, they have already established networks and are aware of opportunities.

Program participants meet regularly with their Transfer Coach and Coordinator. The Pathways Program’s Transfer Coaches, Kirstin Pantazis at JTCC and Paul Williams at Reynolds, help students select classes, plan for their major, and access opportunities at VCU; meanwhile, VCU’s Transfer Coordinator Ian Coyle helps them develop academic and personal connections and become familiar with the university.

In conjunction with their visits to VCU and arts and humanities events, Pathways students keep an e-Portfolio which documents and reflects on their experiences. In the spring, students will transform their e-Portfolios into a professional web page, which will highlight their interests and skills, and can be used in job and internship applications.

Students will have an opportunity to share their e-Portfolios with prospective employers and internship providers at the Putting the Humanities to Work conference, another Mellon grant-funded Pathways Program event, in May 2020, and to become Mellon Research Fellows during the 2020-2021 school year.

For more information contact Micol Hutchison: mhutchison@vccs.edu

jbabb@vccs.edu'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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